Sometimes public and private efforts mix about as well as oil and water.
We can see this play out as the Three In One Family Center continues to face off with the Wayne County commissioners. In this case, the center provides oil and water for free; the county is doing all the shaking in a feeble attempt to blend the two.
Three In One has distributed 1.8 million pounds of food since June to people who drive up to the Maxwell Center, actually a back parking lot Wayne Community College owns. County officials insist that Three In One relocate its Monday giveaway to a place where backup traffic on streets is less of a problem than on Wayne Memorial Drive.
The organizers believe the county-suggested places for relocation are not logistically suitable for the program, in which people drive in and out to collect food boxes.
One of those is the Wayne County Fairgrounds, which would push traffic backups out onto the 55 mph, four-lane U.S. 117.
People would have to park and pass through a gate to get a food box, and a lack of pavement could hamper delivery trucks and forklifts. Also, traffic likely will still back up at the new location if the county forces Three In One to move.
On the record, county commissioners are supportive of Three In One, as they should be. So many people have benefited from the food the organization distributes. As the number of jobs and resources diminished at the height of the pandemic, it is understandable that people would reach out to groups, such as Three In One, to help keep their families fed. If the county sought to do the same, taxpayers’ cost would be astronomical and the coordination so tricky it certainly would fail miserably. Nothing more needs to be said.
So what can be done? First, the city of Goldsboro and the county can aid in traffic control. The giveaway is each Monday. If traffic builds up, keeping people from accessing places like Wayne Community College or Wayne UNC Health Care, then the city and the county must do something to provide access without forcing Three In One to relocate. Government can make use of orange cones or electronic signs to direct traffic or even provide a live officer to control the flow of cars and trucks.
Rather, the measure on the table is creating a memorandum of understanding between Three In One and the county covering liability and traffic and the release of liability for the county.
This seems a bit much. Three In One is not trying to put on a concert, carnival nor rodeo. It is working to feed people at no cost to them.
Instead of writing a memorandum of understanding — or forcing the organization to get insurance policies — commissioners, county officials and the people should shout a collective “Thank you” to Three In One for the charitable blessings it has helped to bestow and let those folks know we’ve got their back.
How about it? I’ll start: Three In One, “Thank you.”
Contact Duke Conover at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 919-739-7840.